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What is virtualization in cloud computing?

IEEE BLP July 3, 2024

What is virtualization in cloud computing?

Cloud computing has revolutionized the way we access and utilize technology. There’s no sign of slowing down for the deployment of the technology, with revenue generation at a massive half a trillion dollars.

But have you ever wondered how a single cloud provider can cater to millions of users with diverse needs? The answer lies in a powerful concept called virtualization. It acts behind the scenes, creating a layer of abstraction that allows for the creation of multiple virtual machines (VMs) on a single physical server.

These VMs can then be used to run applications, store data, and deploy entire IT infrastructures, all with increased flexibility, scalability, and efficiency.

We’ll answer all your burning questions, from what it is to how it supports the cloud. By the end of this deep dive, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge to leverage the power of cloud computing for your own needs.

Table of Content:

1.  What Is Virtualization in Cloud Computing?

2.  What Is the Role of Virtualization in Cloud Computing

3.  Types of Virtualization in Cloud Computing

4.  Usage of Virtualization

5.  Drawbacks of Virtualization in Cloud Computing

6.  Learning Virtualization through IEEE BLP Courses

7.  Final Words

8.  FAQs

What Is Virtualization in Cloud Computing?

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Consider a single physical server with immense power that is underutilized. Traditional computing would dedicate this server to a single task, leaving the rest of its potential untapped. Here’s where virtualization steps in, acting as a game-changer for cloud computing.

A virtual layer is created on top of physical computing resources through virtualization. Imagine it as creating an entirely virtual environment inside the constraints of a real server. Subsequently, this virtual environment might be subdivided into numerous isolated regions, each functioning as a distinct virtual machine (VM).

The global virtual machine market exceeded USD 9.7 billion in 2023 and is expected to reach approximately USD 39.07 billion by 2033, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15% from 2024 to 2033. This highlights the significant growth and adoption of virtualization technologies.

Here’s how the technologies work

  1. Hypervisor: This is the conductor that sits at the heart of virtualization. It’s a software program that installs directly onto the physical server hardware. The hypervisor acts as a layer of abstraction, partitioning the server’s resources (CPU, memory, and storage) into multiple isolated virtual environments.
  2. Virtual Machines (VMs): These are the individual virtual computers created by the hypervisor. Each VM has its own dedicated set of virtual resources, including a virtual CPU, memory, storage, and operating system. Multiple VMs can run on a single physical server simultaneously, each functioning as an independent computer.

What Is the Role of Virtualization in Cloud Computing?

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Virtualization acts as the foundation for cloud computing, playing a critical role in making it efficient, scalable, and cost-effective. The World Bank Report finds that data holds untapped potential, urging investment in cloud infrastructure for developing economies to bridge the digital divide.

Here’s how virtualization empowers the cloud:

1.  Resource Pooling and Sharing

Cloud providers can use virtualization to create a virtualized pool by combining their physical resources—servers, storage, and networks—and distributing these resources among several users, increasing utilization and lowering hardware expenses.

2.  Elasticity and Scalability

The flexibility of virtual machines (VMs) is unparalleled. When demand rises, cloud providers can quickly spin up more virtual machines (VMs) and scale them down when usage declines. Users can optimize expenses by paying for only the resources they utilize, thanks to this elasticity.

3.  Enhanced Usage of Servers

Physical servers have historically been underutilized, with a large percentage of their capacity remaining unused. Thanks to virtualization, multiple virtual machines (VMs) can operate on a single server, maximizing resource usage and minimizing hardware waste.

4.  Quicker Deployment and Provisioning

Setting up a real server takes a long time, while creating a new virtual machine only takes a few seconds. As a result, cloud environments and apps may be deployed more quickly.

5.  Enhanced Reliability and Contingency Planning

Redundant virtual machines (VMs) can be created for vital applications using virtualization. The workload can be quickly moved to another virtual machine (VM) in the event of a hardware breakdown, guaranteeing high availability and reducing downtime.

6.  Enhanced Isolation and Security

Because virtual machines are segregated from one another, programs can run in a safe environment. A security breach that compromises only one virtual machine won’t impact the other virtual machines, improving the cloud’s overall security.

7.  Evaluation and Creation

Cloud-based virtualization makes it possible to set up several testing environments. Developers can streamline the development process by allowing them to test new software and applications without affecting production environments.

In essence, virtualization reveals cloud computing‘s true potential, making it a dynamic and adaptable platform for businesses of all sizes.

Types of Virtualization in Cloud Computing

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Virtualization is not a one-size-fits-all solution. There are different types of virtualization catering to specific needs:

  • Server Virtualization: This is the most common type, allowing you to create multiple virtual servers on a single physical server. Each virtual server can run its own operating system and applications.
  • Storage Virtualization: This technique combines physical storage from several different storage devices into a single, cohesive storage resource. This increases utilization and streamlines storage management.
  • Network Virtualization: The virtualization of network resources, such as switches, routers, and firewalls, is known as network virtualization. It makes it possible to build scalable and adaptable virtual networks inside the clouds.
  • Desktop Virtualization: This allows you to virtualize desktops and deliver them to users via the cloud. Users can access their desktops from any device with an internet connection, improving accessibility and security.

Understanding these different types of virtualization will help you choose the right solution for your specific cloud computing needs.

Usage of Virtualization

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Here’s an analogy: There’s a high-end apartment building with various units. Virtualization is like creating virtual apartments within each physical unit. These virtual apartments can be customized with furniture (operating systems) and belongings (applications) to cater to different needs.

Virtualization has gone beyond cloud computing and found applications in various domains:

In Businesses

  • Consolidation of Servers: Virtualization allows businesses to consolidate multiple physical servers onto fewer machines, reducing hardware costs, energy consumption, and physical space requirements.
  • Disaster Recovery: By creating backups of virtual machines, businesses can quickly restore critical operations in case of hardware failure or disaster. This enhances business continuity and minimizes downtime.
  • Improved Testing and Development: Development teams can create isolated virtual environments to test new applications and software without impacting production environments. This accelerates the development process and reduces the risk of errors.
  • Increased Desktop Manageability: Desktop virtualization allows for centralized management and deployment of desktops across the organization. This simplifies IT administration and improves security.

For Individual Users

  • Running Multiple Operating Systems: Virtualization software allows users to run different operating systems (Windows, macOS, and Linux) on a single machine, making it ideal for software development or testing.
  • Testing Software Safely: Users can create isolated virtual environments to test new software or applications without affecting their main system.
  • Learning and Education: Virtualization can be used to create virtual labs for students to experiment with software and operating systems in a safe and controlled environment.

Drawbacks of Virtualization in Cloud Computing

While virtualization offers numerous advantages, it’s important to consider its drawbacks:

1.  Complexity

It might be difficult to manage a virtualized system, necessitating more knowledge and training for IT personnel. Virtual networks, hypervisors, and machines can be difficult to set up and maintain, particularly in large-scale installations.

2.  Performance Overhead

Although minimal, virtualization introduces a layer of abstraction that can impact the overall performance of the system compared to dedicated physical machines. This overhead can affect resource-intensive applications and may require careful optimization to mitigate it.

3.  Vendor Lock-In

Certain virtualization systems can result in vendor lock-in, which makes it challenging to move to different platforms or service providers down the road. Relying on particular virtualization software may reduce flexibility and raise overall expenses.

4.  Security Issues

The entire virtualized system may be at risk due to security flaws in the hypervisor software.

Unauthorized access to private information through a compromised hypervisor may result in data breaches and other security problems. To reduce these dangers, it is essential to put strong security measures and frequent updates into place.

5.  Dependency on Hardware Below

Virtualization still depends on the underlying physical hardware despite the advantages of consolidation.
If a hardware malfunction or performance decline occurs, virtual machines operating on the actual server may experience downtime and even data loss. High availability and business continuity require redundancy and failover strategies.

Learning Virtualization through IEEE BLP Courses

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The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) stands as the world’s leading organization for technical professionals. The IEEE BLP program distinguishes itself through its unique blended learning methodology.

This method blends the useful application of hands-on exercises with the adaptability and accessibility of eLearning modules.

By enrolling in an IEEE BLP virtualization course, you’ll gain access to:

  • Interactive eLearning Modules: Developed by subject-matter experts, these modules deliver a clear and concise foundation in virtualization concepts, technologies, and best practices.
  • Hands-on Labs: The cornerstone of the BLP experience, these labs provide a simulated environment where you can apply your newfound knowledge by configuring and managing virtual machines, storage, and networks.
  • Industry-recognized Certification: Upon successful completion of your chosen course, you’ll be eligible to earn an official IEEE certificate, a valuable credential that demonstrates your proficiency in virtualization to potential employers.

Final Words

When it comes to understanding cloud computing, virtualization is key. It’s the technology that enables cloud providers to utilize their resources efficiently and creates a dynamic and scalable platform for users.

Whether you work in education, business, or as a student, becoming proficient in virtualization gives you access to the enormous realm of cloud computing.

Regardless of your experience level or career goals, the IEEE BLP program provides an extensive educational experience designed to provide you with the skills and knowledge required to succeed in the cloud computing era.

Take a look at our wide selection of cloud computing courses now and start your journey to a successful career!


1. What is the meaning of the virtualization concept?

With virtualization, you can run different operating systems on a single machine by creating a virtual replica of something, such as a computer system.

2. What is virtualization, and what are the three types?

Virtualization lets you create virtual machines (VMs) on a physical machine. Three common types exist

  • Server virtualization, which splits one server into multiple VMs
  • Storage virtualization pools storage from multiple devices into a single resource
  • Network virtualization, which creates virtual networks on a physical network

3. What is virtualization, and what are its benefits?

The benefits include increased efficiency, which helps run more workloads on less hardware. Next is improved scalability, which leads to easily adding or removing resources as needed. The enhanced security is due to VMs that are isolated from each other.

4. What is full virtualization in the cloud?

Full virtualization creates a complete virtual environment, mimicking the physical hardware for the VM to run any operating system. (Less common than other types due to performance overhead.)

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